The Latest: Sen. Kaine applauds governor’s gun-control call

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Virginia Gov/ Ralph Northam, left, listens during a news conference in Virginia Beach, Va. Friday, May 31, 2019. A longtime city employee opened fire in a municipal building in Virginia Beach on Friday, killing several people on three floors and sending terrified co-workers scrambling for cover before police shot and killed him following a “long gun-battle,” authorities said. (AP Photo/Vicki Cronis-Nohe)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The Latest on plans by Virginia’s governor to call a special legislative session on gun control (all times local):

Noon:

Sen. Tim Kaine is applauding Gov. Ralph Northam’s call for a special legislative session to change Virginia’s gun laws.

The Democrat from Virginia says “it’s painfully clear from the horrific shooting in Virginia Beach and the daily scourge of gun violence in communities across the Commonwealth that Virginia must pass commonsense gun safety reforms.”

Kaine’s statement recalls that when he was governor, lawmakers acted after a shooting massacre at Virginia Tech to fix a flaw in the background check system. But Republicans blocked other gun restrictions, and Kaine says “there’s a lot of unfinished business to make our communities safer.”

Says Kaine, “we need more than thoughts and prayers; we need action.”

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11:50 a.m.

Virginia’s Republican House speaker is calling the Democratic governor’s call for a special session on gun control “hasty and suspect” in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach, and he says it’s “more likely to inflame political tensions” than produce real changes that keep people safe.

Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing a series of violence prevention measures. In response, Speaker Kirk Cox says the GOP will seek tougher punishments for people who commit acts of violence.

Cox’s statement says “Republicans will put forward a package of legislation to stiffen penalties for those who use firearms to commit crimes.” He says addressing gun violence “starts with holding criminals responsible for their actions, not infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

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10:30 a.m.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is calling for a special legislative session on gun control and is insisting that his proposals be voted on by the entire state legislature. He says Friday’s killings in Virginia Beach call for “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.”

The Democrat says his package will include the same measures that state lawmakers have killed in subcommittees before. They include universal background checks, a ban on silencers and bump stocks, a ‘red flag’ mechanism to remove guns from extremely high risk people, child protection measures, and a requirement that gun owners report lost or stolen weapons.

He says first responders were on the crime scene within two minutes after a Virginia Beach city worker opened fire inside a government building, and yet 12 people were killed. Now he’s calling on lawmakers to become “second responders” and “put a stop to this violence.”

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10 a.m.

A top gun rights advocate in Virginia says Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan for a special legislative session on gun control is “political theater.”

Philip Van Cleave is president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. He says he “can’t think of a single gun control thing that would have prevented what happened at Virginia Beach,” and accuses the governor of “trying to deflect from his recent foibles.”

The gun lobbyist said it’s “pure baloney” that silencers mask sound of gun shots.

His solution to Friday’s killings of 12 people would be loosening restrictions on Virginia Beach city employees from being able to carry concealed handguns at work. He says “there’s really nothing other than allowing people to protect themselves until the police get there that would have worked.”

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9 a.m.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam will recall lawmakers to the state Capitol in coming weeks to take up a package of gun-control legislation.

Northam told The Associated Press ahead of his Tuesday announcement that he plans to convene a special legislative session later this summer. The Democrat said new laws are urgently needed to prevent killings like Friday’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

Police said a Virginia Beach city employee used two semi-automatic handguns, a silencer and extended ammo magazines to kill 12 people. Northam’s proposed legislation would ban silencers and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

The Democratic governor has long been an advocate for stricter gun control. But staunchly pro-gun Republicans who controlled the Virginia General Assembly have rejected previous efforts at limiting gun access.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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